Monday 17 September 2012

Neologism of the Week - Hyphoon

What's with the random comma in there? Unless you're going for Shatnerian inflection.

Back in January of this year I wrote a post on portmanteaus in which I highlighted ten of my favourite compound neologisms. These included such gems as 'momniscience', 'floordrobe' and 'botax', as well as my personal favourite - 'pornado' (the frenzied whirlwind of activity of a person desperately trying to cover up their Internet porn use upon being walked in on). Occasionally, however, I come up with my own gem, one of which I would like to share with you today.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a writer and editor is the misuse of hyphens. Hyphens are a useful form of punctuation, and indeed one that I employ fairly liberally in my own writing. However, they often employed wrongly and excessively, such as in the phrase 'thank-you', 'South-American' and 'badly-punctuated'. I personally think Marvel Comics is at least in part to blame for hyphen overuse. Why exactly does Spider-Man have a hyphen in it when Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Iron Man don't? Never made any sense to me.

Sometimes, however, hyphen misuse goes beyond an inappropriate one here and there are goes to crazytown. Case in point the photo hereabove, taken at one of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. There is so much wrong with the punctuation on this sign that it's hard to know where to begin, but certainly the most striking feature of it is the crazed explosion of unnecessary hyphens. Granted American liberalism has a prediliction for hyphen-based inclusivity (i.e. _______-American), but at leasy 'Arab-American' and 'Chinese-American' are correct usages. This, however, is bizarre and perplexing.

Which brings me to my neologism of the week, which is hyphoon. I think this requires little explanation. Moreover, as my good friend Yair Linn pointed out, this also works in French as tirade d'union, which, for the benefit of non-French speakers, is an amalgam of tirade (same as in English) and trait d'union, which means hyphen. Perfect!

I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting phraseologies and neologisms, and cool portmanteaus in particular. Please let me know if you come across any - or come up with a gem of your own.


  1. What do we call the misuse of an apostrophe? I'd like to make it a blend of apostrophe and catastrophe, but it already is that. It's as if when that punctuation got named, it was destined for horrendous misuse.